ECOWAS’ reputation for upholding democratic norms is facing strain as a growing number of West African leaders alter rules to consolidate power and resist stepping down at the end of their mandated terms.
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A power struggle between former President José Mário Vaz and Guinea-Bissau’s ruling Party for the Independence for Guinea and Cape Verde plunged the country into a series of political and institutional crises following the dismissal of Prime Minister Domingos Simões Pereira in August 2015. From the beginning ECOWAS took an active role in resolving the impasse, embarking on several rounds of mediation missions led by former and current regional heads of state, as well as a delegation of regional ministers. The culmination of these efforts resulted in the October 2016 Conakry Accord, a 10-point roadmap for resolution designed to foster political stability and cooperation among the country’s governing members. ECOWAS’s sustained engagement in Guinea-Bissau provides a blueprint for future political and institutional crises in the region.
President Patrice Talon’s manipulation of electoral rules and cooption of democratic processes have caused Benin to slide quickly from a multi-party democracy to a semi-authoritarian regime, portending heightened instability.
A virtual academic program cohosted with the African Centre for the Study and Research on Terrorism that focuses on effective community policing as a tool for countering violent extremism. This program provides an opportunity to capture and share insights, experiences, and lessons, among countries and across regions, about both the implementation challenges in community policing and the practical experiences in bridging gaps between the security sector and the communities they are entrusted with protecting and serving
Africa is slated to hold 13 national elections in 2021. Roughly half of these are in the Horn and the central Sahel. Reflective of the democratic backsliding observed on the continent in recent years, more than a third of these polls are little more than political theater – aimed at garnering a fig leaf of legitimacy for leaders who arguably lack a popular mandate. A fundamental question for this year’s elections, therefore, isn’t just about who will win, but how these leaders will be viewed afterward. Will the same level of legitimacy be conferred on leaders who stay in office via these stage-managed processes? Until these leaders bear a reputational cost for lowering the bar of electoral integrity, this trend can be expected to continue.
West Africa must stand up against the erosion of democracy lest the region return to the devastating conflicts from which it took so much effort and time to recover.
After leading a coup against a democratically elected government, junta leader Colonel Assimi Goïta has attempted to rehabilitate the image of military government in Mali.
In defiance of a Sept. 15 deadline to step aside for a civilian transitional government set by the West Africa regional body, ECOWAS, Mali’s coup leaders have proposed a plan that would keep the military in charge. A convenient provision of the plan is that leaders of the Aug. 18 coup would be granted judicial... Continue Reading
President Alpha Condé’s maneuvers to adopt a new Constitution despite popular opposition are another step toward subverting democratic checks and balances in order to secure a third term as president.
Despite opposition counts showing they won 72 percent of the vote, Faure Gnassingbé was declared the winner of Togo’s presidential election, advancing his bid to continue his family’s 53-year rule.
Popular demand to end the 50-year rule of the Gnassingbé family puts the spotlight on Togo’s authoritarian practices and ECOWAS’s vow to uphold democratic norms.
African elections in 2020 will be a test against efforts to erode presidential term limits and other democratic checks and balances, with direct consequences for stability on the continent.